Friendship and Fire...

I read something recently about C.S. Lewis and his group of friends called "The Inklings".

"Lewis was effusive in expressing his appreciation for the Inklings. To emphasize their importance, he said, “What I owe them all is incalculable.” And to emphasize their enjoyment, he asked, “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”

Last night I was joined by several friends around a fire. It is true.

This is one of my favorite Clive Staples quotes. He writes with such poetic depth and sometimes I can read pages of his works without the slightest clue as to what he's talking about. He can talk about some bit of minutia for a whole chapter and I'm choking like an infant trying to down a sirloin steak in their booster seat.
But in this bit of writing, it's like he breaks down all the grandiloquence into a quintessential concept that a 3 year old could nod in agreement with, and yet, the depth of this little sentence couldn't be packed with any more profound meaning.

The pleasure of a circle of friends around a fire has to be one of my most treasured memories of the past and moments of the present. There is something truly mythic about the glow of the fire dancing upon the faces of those encircled. Elsewhere, C.S. Lewis called these times "The Golden Sessions". These slivers of time shared with friends where you laugh and dream and hone the craft of storytelling. A tapestry of tales are woven together effortlessly. It moves from conversations of deep gravity to jesting jabs of levity. All the while, the fire consumes, as methodical and inevitable as an undertaker.

As I sat there last night, I wondered how people are doing out there in the world with friendship. I wondered how many had given it their last stab. I wondered how many had taken their last stab in the back. I wondered how many were feeling the stab of loneliness as they sat in their living room watching the television, again.

Is there any pleasure on earth so rich as a circle of friends around a crackling fire? I'm sure some would argue for a fishing boat or a ski lift or the front row seats of their favorite artists' concert. I'm not sure it's always a fire for everyone, but I know it's always friendship. Friends are irreplaceable delicacies without which our souls die sorrowfully waiting for our bodies to catch up.

But as for me Friendship and Fire are by far one of the greatest pleasures on earth.

My wife and I sat out by the fire about a week ago, talking and listening and relaxing. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. In some ways, perhaps I had.


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